Hot Pans - Stockholm Steelband
© Ulf Kronman, The Pan Page. Publisher: Musikmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Steel drums for panmaking

Drums used for steel pan making are ordinary 55-gallon drums according to the standard ASA MH 2.1 or 2.2. The exact measures (according to the Swedish standard SIS 846201) are the following: internal diameter 571 mm, external diameter 595 mm (23 inches), height 840 mm (33 inches). The volume is 208 litres, which equals 45.8 Imperial gallons or 55 U.S. gallons, respectively.

The metal in the bottom is usually 1.0 or 1.2 mm thick. Below is a list of combinations of metal thickness in top/bottom and side and the corresponding weight of the drum. The weight might be used as a clue to the thickness of the metal.


Thickness side

Thickness top/bottom

Approx. weight

0.8 mm

1.0 mm

15 kg

1.0 mm

1.0 mm

18 kg

1.0 mm

1.2 mm

19 kg

1.2 mm

1.2 mm

22 kg

The best steel pans are probably made from drums with 1.2 mm steel in the bottom and 1.0 mm in the side, that is; 18/20 gauge. The bottom should not be less than 1.2 mm thick. A side that is 1.2 mm thick instead of 1.0 mm makes the pan a bit heavier but is acoustically acceptable.




1.0 mm

20 gauge

1.2 mm

18 gauge

1.4 mm

17 gauge